BEST BRAD NAILERS | NOVEMBER 2017
When working with wood, you’ll likely need to use a wide variety of tools. The brad nailer is an essential wood-working tool, especially if you’re planning on working with smaller and more delicate pieces of wood like trim and molding. Brad nailers use smaller-gauge nails to help you nail in areas that are hard to reach or to finish work that needs more precision and less power. Our team has compiled a list of the best brad nailers that you can buy today. All of our reviews cover key purchasing considerations for brad nailers that can help you choose the right fit for your nailing needs. Don’t forget to also check out our buying guide, which reviews the core considerations and pricing you should make before purchasing a new brad nailer. Read more about our methodology.
If you're looking for a great overall brad nailer, look no further than the Makita AF505N. This pneumatic brad nailer is durable and reliable, with a narrow-nose design and tool-less maintenance features. With the increased versatility that this brad nailer offers, you can be sure to have a comfortable and consistent experience while using this unit.Read full review.
This pneumatic brad nailer is made from an extra-durable magnesium body, which can take a beating with no sweat. It's also incredibly lightweight and offers an extra-comfortable handle with more grip so you can work throughout the day without worrying about wearing out. The DEWALT DWFP12231 is a great choice for anyone looking for comfort and reliable durability.Read full review.
This pneumatic brad nailer is great for home DIYers on a budget that need something reliable and sturdy. With a lightweight, durable aluminum body, you can expect to be able to use the WEN 61720 for extended periods of time without worrying about tiring. It also includes additional convenience features like an adjustable exhaust port and adjustable depth settings.Read full review.
It's easy to see why the pneumatic NuMax S2-118G2 made it as the budget runner-up pick because of its ease of use and sturdy design. This pneumatic brad nailer is a reliable choice that also offers a dual functionality, which allows you to use nails or staples as needed for different projects. This added versatility makes this brad nailer a top choice for anyone on a budget.Read full review.
Brad Nailers BUYING GUIDE
First and foremost among your considerations for brad nailers should be how the unit itself is powered. Brad nailers are powered by three main power sources: pneumatic, battery and electric. Pneumatic brad nailers use compressed gas processed through an air compressor to drive the nails out of the unit. Cordless brad nails typically use lithium-ion batteries for power and electric brad nailers pull power directly from a wall outlet. Each of these types of brad nailers offers its own set of pros and cons. Pneumatic nailers offer consistent and reliable power. Battery-powered nailers are incredibly portable. Electric nailers are flexible and affordable.
Brad nailers fire nails from either a straight or angled orientation. Straight brad nailers fire nails at a 90-degree angle into the wood. This is the most common orientation for brad nailers and fits the needs of most customers. However, if you’re looking at working in tight spaces, you might want to consider an angled brad nailer. These brad nailers fire the nail at an angle, making it easier to nail in tight places. We recommend purchasing a straight brad nailer for working with intricate projects that require more precision and an angled brad nailer for construction projects where you need to nail in places that are hard to reach, like building cabinets.
Design and Comfort
As with any power tool, it’s important to keep brad nailers’ design and comfort in mind, especially if you’re planning on using your unit for extended periods of time. Many manufacturers put extra effort into creating brad nailers that are comfortable and easy to use. A good brad nailer should also be designed well to avoid excessive wear and tear during use. A good design can greatly extend the life of the brad nailer you purchase.
Brad nailers come in all shapes and sizes, and many units offer additional features that can improve the way you handle and work with them. As you look at possible brad nailers to purchase, consider what extra features you would consider worth spending more for. These extra features can include things such as easy jam-clearing mechanisms, directional exhausts, big triggers and included carrying cases.
For under $40, you can get a budget brad nailer. These brad nailers are perfect for home DIYers because of their lighter builds and basic functionality. They typically don’t offer many extras or advanced features. In the $50-$100 range, you can get a brad nailer that fits most people’s needs. These units offer all the standard features and typically include more comfortable designs or extra features that improve your experience. For more than $100, you can buy a premium brad nailer. These units are often battery powered, offering a much greater level of flexibility than traditional brad nailers. You’ll usually get more convenience features with these brad nailers.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Makita AF505N pneumatic brad nailer is a compact and convenient option for anyone looking to purchase a new brad nailer. This unit features a variety of convenience features like a narrow-nose design for increased versatility and tool-less design for easier maintenance. The Makita brad nailer is durable and designed with comfort in mind. With these features and more, it’s easy to see why the Makita AF505N is Review Lab’s top pick for brad nailers.
Why We Recommend It
- Compact and durable design. The Makita AF505N is a compact brad nailer that also features a durable design. Users happily report that their units have lasted through rough conditions, even when they expected it wouldn’t. Users are also pleased with the narrow-nose design of the nailer, as it allowed them to nail in tight situations. This brad nailer also features a no-mar nose design so you won’t scuff up the areas where you are nailing.
- Easy tool-less maintenance. This brad nailer eliminates the painfulness of jammed nails by features a tool-less release for the nail guide assembly. Users report this to be one of their favorite features since it allows them to easily and quickly clear jams. The Makita AF505N also features a tool-less depth adjustment dial that allows you to easily adjust your settings for different finish applications.
- 360-degree air exhaust. If you work in a dusty area, you’ll really enjoy the 360-degree air exhaust on this brad nailer. This feature allows you to rotate the exhaust port a full 360 degrees so you can direct the air away from yourself or to keep it from blowing sawdust and other messes away.
- Convenient 180-degree tool hook. The Makita AF505N features a convenient tool hook built directly into the unit which can rotate 180 degrees, allowing for greater flexibility. Many users report that this hook is durable and convenient, especially when they’re constantly switching back and forth between hand tools and the brad nailer.
- No rapid-fire option. This brad nailer requires you to fully release the trigger and raise the gun before placing it and firing it again, which users report can decrease your overall efficiency.
The DEWALT DWFP12231 is a sturdy pneumatic brad nailer that features a lightweight magnesium body for extra durability and comfort during use. It also features a rear exhaust port and padded rubber grip for added comfort, along with a convenient tool-less design that allows you to maintain the unit and clear jams easier. This is a great brad nailer for someone looking for comfort and convenience for extended jobs.
Why We Recommend It
- Extra durable design. Built with a strong magnesium body, the DEWALT DWFP12231 is the perfect choice for professionals and DIYers who need something more durable than other options. Many users are happy with the magnesium design, reporting that it’s stronger than the more commonly used aluminum designs. It’s also lightweight for added flexibility and comfort.
- Convenient tool-free maintenance. With tool-free maintenance, you can clear nail jams with ease. You can also easily adjust the depth settings without tools, making the DEWALT DWFP12231 an incredibly easy machine to maintain. Many users report how quickly they are able to clear jams and adjust depth settings, which gives them more time to work.
- Greater level of comfort during use. Because of its lightweight design, this brad nailer is incredibly comfortable and easy to use for extended periods of time. It also features a unique anti-slip grip with integrated rubber for greater levels of comfort. Many users report that this is one of the most comfortable brad nailers they’ve ever used.
- Not for progressive nailing. If you’re looking for a brad nailer that can do progressive nailing, you might want to consider a different option. The DEWALT DWFP12231 doesn’t offer this feature.
The WEN 61720 is a lightweight pneumatic brad nailer that can stand up to tough conditions with ease. This brad nailer is hardy and light with a durable aluminum body, making it easy to use for extended periods of time. It also features a comfortable handle for better use. Along with its price and added convenience features—like an adjustable exhaust and depth control—the WEN 61720 is the perfect budget choice for home DIYers or hobbyists.
Why We Recommend It
- Lightweight and durable. The WEN 61720 is a durable brad nailer that many users report is able to take a beating. It’s made from aluminum which makes for a durable and lightweight option. Weighing in at only three pounds, this brad nailer is easy to carry around and use without wearing yourself out halfway through a job. Many users report being happy with the aluminum construction, stating that it gives the brad nailer a higher level of quality.
- Comfortable to handle. Due to its lightweight design and ergonomic rubber grip handle, the WEN 61720 is incredibly comfortable to handle and use. Users report being able to use their brad nailers for extended periods of time without needing to set the unit down to rest. This unit also comes with an included carrying case, making even more portable.
- Directional exhaust for versatility. This brad nailer allows you to adjust the exhaust port any way you’d like within a 360-degree angle. This allows you more comfort while using the unit so you don’t have to worry about air blowing in your face or blowing dust around your workspace while you’re working. Users report that this feature is easy to use and super convenient
- Convenience features. The WEN 61720 offers various additional convenience features, such as an easy-to-use wheel for adjusting depth settings and a quick release magazine that helps you clear jams quickly and easily. Users report that these added convenience features help them work faster and more efficient overall.
- No mar protection. The nose of the WEN 61720 doesn’t include any mar protection, which may cause scuffs or dents on the wood you’re working with.
The NuMax S2-118G2 is a durable and comfortable pneumatic brad nailer that offers a reliable and efficient experience when working with intricate wood projects. With a sturdy design and additional features for added convenience, this tool makes for a great choice for anyone in the market for a brad nailer, professionals and hobbyists alike. You also get the added benefit of having a two-in-one functionality with the NuMax, which allows you to staple and nail interchangeably as needed.
Why We Recommend It
- Two-in-one functionality. The NuMax S2-118G2 offers two-in-one functionality. You can use nails or staples with this brad nailer. Having two-in-one functionality gives you more versatility over the projects you do with a single tool. Users report that both modes function well and that it’s easy to switch between the modes.
- Durable and comfortable design. With a cast aluminum body, this brad nailer is a durable and hardy option, especially for people who are going to use it extensively. The aluminum body is also lightweight and features a comfortable rubber grip on the handle for easier portability. Users are pleased with the overall design of this brad nailer, stating that it feels sturdy and looks good.
- 360-degree exhaust port. The NuMax S2-118G2 features a handy 360-degree exhaust port for greater convenience. This feature allows you to work more comfortably without worrying about getting distracted with air blowing in your face. Many users really enjoy this feature, as it gives them the option of directing the air away from them in the most convenient manner.
- Additional convenience options. This brad nailer also features a variety of additional convenience options. For one, the nail magazine features a reload indicator in the form of a colored mark that lets you know when you’re running low on nails. The unit also includes dust cap for its air hose port, which prevents dust from clogging up the pneumatic airway. You can also use the included depth adjustment wheel to quickly adjust the depth that the nails are fired into the wood. According to many users, these additional features add to the overall experience of using the NuMax S2-118G2.
- May dimple wood. Multiple users report seeing noticeable dimples in the wood that they are nailing with the NuMax S2-118G2.
BEST BY CATEGORY
Best Pneumatic Brad Nailer
The most common type of brad nailer is pneumatic. These nail guns use compressed gas from an air compressor to eject nails. Pneumatic brad nailers are typically less expensive than other types of brad nailer and offer a much more reliable power source. As long as your air compressor is plugged in, you’ll have consistent force for driving nails. These nailers are perfect for home projects.
The Hitachi NT50AE2 is an incredibly reliable and heavy duty pneumatic brad nailer that can handle most of the jobs thrown at it. This brad nailer features two firing modes—bump and contact—and is one of the lightest models we reviewed, weighing in at only two pounds. It’s also incredibly durable with an aluminum body and comfortable during use because of its Elastomer grip. If you’re looking for a pneumatic brad nailer that’s great across the board, don’t look any further than the Hitachi NT50AE2.
Why We Recommend It
- Two fire modes for versatility. The Hitachi NT50AE2 pneumatic brad nailer conveniently offers two different fire modes in one machine. You can easily switch between bump and contact fire modes with the flip of a switch, a feature that many users appreciate. You can use bump mode to fire nails simply by “bumping” the nose of the nail gun where you want to nail. Contact mode requires you to place the nose and then pull the trigger.
- Incredibly lightweight and durable. This brad nailer is one of the lightest models we reviewed, weighing in at only two pounds. This lightweight design is due to its aluminum body, which is also incredibly durable. Many users report liking the overall design aesthetic and are also pleased with how long their units have lasted, even through extended periods of heavy use.
- Comfortable to handle. The lightweight aluminum body also adds to the overall comfort of using the Hitachi NT50AE2. Since it only weighs two pounds, you can easily use this brad nailer for longer periods of time, a claim that many users back up through their reviews. This model also features a comfortable grip around the handle made with Elastomer, which users report is comfortable and adds an extra level of grip during use.
- Extra convenience features. The Hitachi NT50AE2 features a variety of additional convenience features such as easy depth adjustment for greater customizability, a reload indicator so you know when you need to load more nails and a removable nose cap for extra protection.
- Loud operation. Many users report that the Hitachi NT50AE2 is louder than other brad nailers, especially when working in smaller, more enclosed spaces.
Best Cordless Brad Nailer
If you need mobility and portability, cordless brad nailers are the best option for you. Cordless brad nailers are typically battery powered and offer much more versatility than their counterparts. These units are typically significantly more expensive than pneumatic brad nailers, but many users find that the benefits of added versatility outweigh the increased price. If you’re always on the go and don't want to be encumbered with a large air compressor, a cordless brad nailer is perfect for you.
The DEWALT DC608K is a battery-powered brad nailer that is durable and more portable than pneumatic and corded electric of brad nailers. It's great for remote worksites and tight spaces. This cordless brad nailer also includes convenient features like LED lights and dual firing modes for greater versatility. This brad nailer is the perfect choice for something who doesn’t want to be tied down by air compressors or extension cords.
Why We Recommend It
- Power on the go. Rather than rely on a bulky and inconvenient air compressor for power, the DEWALT DC608K is powered by an 18-volt lithium ion battery. According to many users, the battery is efficient and powerful, and it can provide a steady charge for a full day’s worth of work.
- Two firing modes. You can choose to use either a contact or bump firing mode when using this cordless brad nailer. This gives you greater flexibility between jobs that require speed and jobs that require precision. Contact mode requires you set the nose of the nailer first, then pull the trigger while bump mode allows you to simply bump the nose of the nailer where you want the nail to go. Many users are pleased to report that both firing modes work well.
- Safe when not in use. The DEWALT DC608K features a unique safety feature called Contact Trip Lock-Off which locks the trigger altogether when the brad nailer isn’t in use. Many users like this safety feature for a variety of reasons, including children around the house and as a prevention for accidents due to moments of clumsiness.
- Convenience features. The DEWALT DC608K also features a variety of additional convenience features that help you easily maintain the unit. With tool-less maintenance, you can clear jams and adjust depth settings without needing extra tools. It also includes integrated LED lights for greater versatility in poorly lit workspaces. Users report that these features all make for a better experience operating this brad nailer for a variety of jobs and environments.
- Heavy. The 18-volt battery makes this brad nailer significantly heavier than other brad nailers. Many users are surprised by the increased weight and need to take more frequent breaks on extended jobs.
The Porter-Cable PCC790LA is a battery-powered brad nailer that features a high-capacity lithium ion battery that lasts longer than most other battery-powered brad nailers on the market. The unit also has convenient features such as dual LED lights for added visibility and an extended warranty. This brad nailer is perfect for professionals looking for a reliable and durable option nailer they can take on the go without worrying about running out of charge.
Why We Recommend It
- High-capacity battery. With a 20-volt battery, the Porter-Cable PCC790LA is one of the highest-capacity cordless brad nailers on the market. This powerful lithium-ion battery provides more than enough charge to power you through several jobs before needing to charge. Users confirm this battery life and are generally impressed with how long the 20-volt battery actually lasts between charges. You also gain much more portability than other brad nailers with a high-capacity battery, especially if you’re working in an area without power.
- Dual LED lights. This brad nailer features dual LED lights integrated directly into its body for added versatility. These LED lights help light up your workspace and even indicate when errors with the unit occur, such as jams. Many users were most pleased with this feature, as it allowed them to work and access darker spaces much easier than before, without requiring additional equipment.
- Durable and comfortable to use. Many users are pleased with how durable the construction of the Porter-Cable PCC790LA brad nailer is. They report using it through many extensive jobs and not having any problems. It also includes an ergonomic handle with increased grip that makes extended jobs more comfortable.
- Extended warranty. If you happen to run into any problems with the Porter-Cable PCC790LA, you can rest assured you’re covered by a 3-year limited warranty. This warranty is longer than many currently on the market and users report the warranty replacement process being easy and hassle-free.
- No instantaneous firing. The Porter-Cable PCC790LA has a 1-second delay between pulling the trigger and the nail firing. Many users report having trouble getting used to this.
Best Electric Brad Nailer
Electric brad nailers offer more flexibility and portability than pneumatic brad nailers, but don’t offer quite as much versatility as cordless brad nailers. Electric nail guns plug directly into a wall outlet for their power source. Not having to carry around an air compressor is a huge benefit, but you’ll still be limited by the length of the cord you’re using. Electric brad nailers are great choices for home DIYers that don’t do enough work with brad nailers to warrant the additional purchase of an air compressor and hose.
The Stanley TRE550Z is a unique brad nailer that offers electric power through a power cord that plugs directly into the wall. It also features dual operating modes, allowing you to use it as a brad nailer or a stapler for different jobs. You can switch between two power modes depending on how much power you need, and the units additional features make this a great choice for home DIYers or anyone who’s working inside on smaller projects.
Why We Recommend It
- Dual-use functionality. The Stanley TRE550Z is a brad nailer that can use nails or staples during operation. This dual-use functionality is a popular feature among users who are home DIYers because this gives them more of an opportunity to use the unit for a variety of different projects.
- Two power input options. This brad nailer is a unique unit because it is powered by electricity from a wall outlet. However, you shouldn’t worry about losing too much power, since the unit offers both High and Low modes for hard and soft materials, respectively. Many users report using both options frequently and are pleased that they have the options available.
- Flush-nose design. This brad nailer’s nose is completely flush, making it perfect for use in tight situations since it lays completely flat on the surfaces you’re nailing. Many users report that this flush nose design also increases the accuracy of nail and staple placement, meaning you won’t have to spend too much time figuring out exactly where the nail goes after you pull the trigger.
- Convenient additional features. Even though the Stanley TRE550Z is corded, you won’t have to worry about being restricted to an increasingly small area of work. In fact, this brad nailer includes an 8-foot power cord, giving you a fair amount of freedom of movement. You can also clear any jams quickly with this brad nailer, decreasing the time you need to spend on maintenance. Many users reported worry at not being mobile enough with this brad nailer at first, but found these additional features alleviated those worries.
- Not great for upholstering furniture. Even though the Stanley TRE550Z offers a staple mode, many users report that it is not powerful enough for stapling furniture upholstery.